Can terrorism become a scientific discipline? A diagnostic study

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    This study offers a meta-information analysis of the state of the art of terrorism research from structural disciplinary perspectives, and by comparisons with several other fields of study. It observes the interrelationship of disciplinary characteristics, specifically, scientific collaboration among terrorism researchers, the growth rate in the number of conferences in the field after 9/11 and the fragmentation of terrorism studies into separate research specialties. These three trends coincide, indicating the growing importance and visibility of terrorism and counter-terrorism studies for government decision-makers and an increase in funding for this research, much of which is channelled in specific desired directions. The new research on terrorism has created disciplinary studies on the subject in the sciences and the life sciences, side by side with traditional social science research. The fragmentation of the field, growing collaboration and the appearance of conference proceedings on terrorism are indicative of the beginnings of an autonomous academic research field, a distinct discipline of study. In great part, these developments are not only due to the infiltration of new subject areas into the network of terrorism research, but also to the expanding number of journals devoted to different aspects of the subject. The road to recognition as an academic discipline depends on whether the various aspects of terrorism studies can be integrated into one comprehensive branch of learning. This ability, in turn, is conditional on the field's cognitive structure or knowledge characteristics, as well as on the shifts and changes in the actual terrorism scene in the future that might influence the nature of research.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)437-458
    Number of pages22
    JournalCritical Studies on Terrorism
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - 2010


    • Collaboration
    • Conferences
    • Disciplinary status
    • Fragmentation
    • Meta-information
    • Multiparadigmatic
    • Terrorism

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Political Science and International Relations


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